Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Carnival on Modern Liberty

In a bizzare case of two degrees of separation from the Atheist Agnostic bus Tom Griffen has already tagged me to take part in the carnival on Modern Liberty started by James Graham over at Liberal Consirpacy yesterday. Tom decided to make his tags so that the geographic diversity of the taggees was expanded (so it's a good job I no longer live within commuting distance of my University at Kingston).

Here's what James originally posted to outline the idea.

As an online companion to the Convention, it is intended to help promote debate
on civil liberties on the blogosphere over the next few weeks. Fundamentally
however, it is also intended to spur both bloggers and their readers into

I will be producing the first edition this Friday on Liberal Conspiracy. Over the next couple of weeks it will move to OurKingdom and Unlock Democracy and then we’ll be looking for volunteers to host future editions - what about you? (email offers to modernliberty *at* quaequamblog *dot* net).

If you have an article you would like to be included in the first edition you can submit it either by following this link or emailing modernliberty *at* quaequamblog *dot* net. The deadline is 4pm on Thursday 22 January (if you miss this it is no problem as it will simply carry over to the next week’s edition). We are particularly looking for articles on the following sub-topics:

* ACTION: our favourite category! ideas and initiatives for raising
awareness of civil liberty-related issues.

* EVENTS: civil-liberty related events that you are either organising or
would like to promote (you don’t need to wait until 28 February before holding a
meetup, tweetup or even just a social to the pub or cinema - if it’s civil
liberty related, publicise it here).

* JEERS: reports of the latest assaults on liberties.

* CHEERS: good news (we do get it occasionally!) and praise for the
champions of liberty.

* WHAT LIBERTY MEANS TO ME: think pieces about what liberty in a modern
context actually means (once you’ve been all philosophical, do an action post to
balance things out :)).

As the geographical diversity haa now hit Scotland I think it is only fair to nominate some of the Scottish Blogosphere. I could pick all five from the usual susects, the established Scottish blogosphere people who I know would do a sterling job people like Jeff, IoC, MacNumpty, DoctorVee or STB. But James encourages us not to pick the usual suspects and himself tagged Girl With A One Track Mind, London Underground, Neil Gaiman, Bad Science and New Humanist as his five.

So maintaining that thrust I'm going to mix it up a little and give some of the newer or less well established bloggers a shot.


Stuart Winton said...

Thanks for the nomination Stephen!

Wardog said...

I'll post some thoughts on Civil Liberty and what it means to me very shortly.

In the meantime thanks for the tag.

Wardog said...

"...salus populi suprema lex esto..."
The welfare of the people is to be the highest law

The liberal civic nationalist stance has much to be said in favor of it. It strives to reconcile our intuitions for our cultural communities with a liberal political morality.

Of course, this raises issues of compatibility between liberal universal principles and the particular attachments to one's cultural nation.

Civic nationalism lies within the traditions of rationalism and liberalism, it derives political legitimacy from the active participation of its citizenry, from the degree to which it represents the "will of the people", but as a form of nationalism it is totoally contrasted with ethnic nationalism.

Membership of the civic nation is considered VOLUNTARY....

Liberal Civic National ideals influenced the development of representative democracy in countries such as the United States, Australia, India and France in addition to many other smaller nations.

On many issues, such as tackling climate change, developing renewable technology, or ridding our planet of weapons of mass destruction, it is very clear that the Scottish contribution would be more progressive than the response of any UK Government, past or present.

"...vox populi..."
The Right to Collective Self-Determination

The justification of national claims as deriving from the will of the members of a nation is the crucial tenet of Liberal Civic Nationalism.

The notion of the nation-state has been successful in the past, promoting equality and democracy and continues in today's global groupings through the global family of peoples, the united nations.

National solidarity is a powerful motive for a more egalitarian distribution of goods.

Scots derive a strong sense of identity from our nationhood.

Scotland has always retained a unique culture and character - not defined in opposition to our neighbours, but by ourselves and our basic values.

Scots have made great contributions in the world of philosophy, economics, science and letters. We were the first country in the world to adopt free education for all and our legal system is a unique hybrid of the civil and common law traditions.

Notwithstanding our strong ties to our historic nation, Scots have also for these past three hundred been part of a political union - the United Kingdom. Scotland played its full part in the Union - meeting our obligations and advancing the common good, without ever losing sight of our distinctive identity and values.

Scotland as a collective nation has also maintained the core idea of it's destination, it's destiny - it's what binds us and defines the civil liberties of our people.

"... Scotland small?
Our multiform, our infinite Scotland....

Hugh MacDiarmid

Scotland is a nation that has many many layers of identity, from the local to the global.

Scottishness has always meant far more than a simple identity with nation.

It is combines ideas of cosmopolitanism, of decency, of humanity - on advancing ideas and common interests, in short it both moulds and is formed by a common bond of civil liberties that although not peculiar to Scotland, have infused with the specificity of place and culture and to a point where they cannot be removed and held simply as universal liberal ideals.

They are move than that, have a specificity and difference which is distinct and worthy of recognition and celebration.

Such a sufficiently large group of people has a prima face right to govern itself and to decide its future membership, if the members of the group so wish through the exercising of fair and transparent democratic action.

It is fundamentally the democratic will of the members themselves that grounds the right to an national state and to it's distinct cultural institutions and practices. The process towards an expression of this liberal civic nationalism has been under way for more than half a century.

In 1945, the new United Nations was established with just 51 member countries. There are now nearly 200, including more than 30 new members since 1990. It is by becoming independent that nations can maximise their influence in our interdependent world.

"...Sic vita est...."
Equality & Diversity

Scotland strives to meet the civic liberal ideal of open multi-culturalism, an ideal where every group receives its share of rights, not walling itself up against others, but instead participates in a common, overlapping civic culture and in open communication with other sub-communities.

Members of a minority group are often disadvantaged in relation to a dominant culture because they have to rely on those with the same language and culture to conduct the affairs of daily life.

Since freedom to conduct one's daily life is a primary good and it is difficult to change or give up reliance on one's minority culture to attain that good, this reliance can lead to certain inequalities if special measures are not taken.

Therefore, liberal civic ideals require that the majority provide certain rights to all i.e. promoting cultural multiplicity & celebrating difference.

Only a culture that is already strong and assured can welcome and encourage cultures from other parts of the world. Scotland seeks that diversity and welcomes the civic liberal ideal that encompasses the commonality and humanity shared by us all.

This doesn't compete with cultural and national identity as these are voluntary.

".....Our nationalism can be no peril to other nations in as much as we will exploit none, just as we will allow none to exploit us...."

(YI, 16-4-1931, p. 79)

"...For me patriotism is the same as humanity. I am patriotic because I am human and humane. If is not exclusive, I will not hurt England or Germany to serve India. Imperialism has no place in my scheme of life. The law of a patriot is not different from that of the patriarch. And a patriot is so much the less patriot if he is a Luke-warm humanitarian. There is no conflict between private and political law....."

(YI, 16-3-1921, p. 81)

"....veritas vos liberabit...."

Beyond the UK and Europe, Scotland has a global identity.

We have always been internationalists, looking beyond our shores for ideas, influences and ways that we can enrich others. Scotland has deep ties of kinship and history with the Commonwealth. And the Scots Diaspora has a prominent place in the history of the United States, Canada and many nations.

The reality of the 21st century is that the processes of independence and interdependence are one and the same. As our world becomes ever more interconnected in terms of trade, international relations, the environment and security, the case for nations having a voice at a global level becomes ever more compelling.

The nation-state also seems to be essential to safeguard the civic liberties of communities in the future since it is the only form of political institution capable of protecting communities from the threats of globalization and assimilationism.

These political arguments can be combined with deep communitarian ones. However, taken in isolation, they offer the more interesting perspective of a “liberal culturalism” that is more suitable for culturally plural societies.

For Scotland, independence would give a voice and votes in the European Union, where we have many vital interests at stake, and also enable this nation to act on our instincts for internationalism, emulating the success of other small countries, such as Ireland and the Scandinavian nations.

We Scots are proud Europeans, inclusive, open to change and ideas and above all else traders. By history Scotland is - and by all of our people's ambition Scotland will remain - a European nation, in time a full member of the European Union. It is impossible for one to be internationalist without being a nationalist. Internationalism is possible only when nationalism allows the expression of the people.

"...Res ipsa loquitur..."

Liberal nationalism has also brought to the fore more modest, less philosophically or metaphysically charged arguments grounded in the concerns of justice.

These stress the practical importance of cultural membership, various rights to redress injustice, democratic rights of political association and the role that cultural ties and associations can play in promoting just social arrangements.

Liberal Civic Nationalists propose pluralistic nation states, with a strong national identity which can thrive in a multicultural society. A civil libertarian ideal of understanding, relative morality, consensus and common humanity that celebrates difference.

A difference that is inate in who we are and which forms our community bonds, family bonds and ultimately international bonds. A positive and forward-looking agenda for Scotland is about people being in charge of their destiny, with the right to choose the nation's future.

The proposed referendum reflects and promotes this new politics, whether a single or dual questions, it seeks progress for the people towards a more democratic, localised form of government, statehood and cvil liberty. It is a progressive vision for a fair, aspiration modern Scotland - a nation that governs itself wisely and fairly, and is a good citizen of the world.

“...The rulers should be identified with the people; that their interest and will should be the interest and will of the nation. The nation did not need to be protected against its own will, the most active part of people and the majority....”

John Stuart Mill

McChatterer said...

Done. Looking forward to seeing your post on the subject Stephen!


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